After Arles-sur-Tech, we leave the main road (D-115). The route now follows tracks, some of which are asphalted, and the trails alongside the River Tech, although in the future the route will use the remaining stretches of the old railway line between Arles-sur-Tech and Le Boulou. We will need to adapt to different road surfaces, sometimes covered in loose stones, but always cyclable. It is much more peaceful cycling on roads free of traffic, even though we do have to share the route with vehicles on a small part of our journey. Leaving Amélie-les-Bains, the presence of railway infrastructures becomes quite evident. Indeed, in 1975 the train still came as far as this to collect iron ore. More specifically, the line went as far as the eastern entrance to the Amélie-les-Bains tunnel, which we can still see today. We will then cross an old railway bridge on a road shared with vehicles. Soon after that, we will cycle along the disused train line, with no traffic to spoil the peaceful surroundings. When entering and leaving l’Estanyol, after the Amélie-les-Bains crossroads, two fairly steep slopes make it hard to continue without dismounting. 

The valley begins to open out and loses the wild, gorge-like character associated with the mountain. As we approach Amélie-les-Bains, we notice the temperature becoming warmer and the scent of the sea in the air. Indeed, the first facilities we come across in the town are the heated municipal swimming pool and a sports centre known as the Espai Mediterrani (Mediterranean Zone), proof of the fact that this is an environment influenced by both mountain and sea. 

In Amélie-les-Bains, everything centres on thermal springs. Since 633 there have been Roman baths in the town, which was called “Els Banys” (The Baths) until 1840, when it was given the French name of Amélie (Amélie-les-Bains) in honour of the queen with the same name. Since then, it has been a resort to which visitors have flocked to enjoy the properties of the thermal waters and the relaxation they offer. In fact, there are even one-day vouchers available to help you get fit! If we go 1.5 km further along the left bank of the River Tech, we will reach Palaldà, where, in addition to visiting the fortified mediaeval town, we can go to the Post Office Museum, where we can find the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Interpretation Centre, and the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, where we can discover the traditional tools used by shoemakers and find out how the typical Catalan rope-soled sandal, the “espardenya vigatana”, is made. After this, we should return to Amélie-les-Bains in order to ensure we continue along our route, which becomes truly spectacular from here on.

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